- Covid infection levels continuing to drop in England and Wales but levelling off in Scotland and Northern Ireland - ONS
- Overall one in 280 people in the UK thought to be infected - down from one in 230 the week before
- UK R number now between 0.6 and 0.8, down from 0.7-0.9 last week, meaning the epidemic is shrinking faster
- Wales's First Minister Mark Drakeford says situation "steadily improving" as he announces detailed timetable for easing lockdown
- Bulgaria is latest country to pause use of AstraZeneca vaccine as a precaution after reports of some people developing blood clots
- The WHO is to investigate those cases but says the vaccination can continue to be given in the meantime
- Italy expected to impose national lockdown over Easter weekend and restrict internal travel from Monday
- In Wales from Saturday 13 March, four people from two different households will be able to meet up outdoors to socialise, including in gardens
- Welsh hairdressers can open from Monday but non-essential retail remains closed until 12 April, disappointing businesses who had hoped to open sooner
- Scotland also now allowing four adults from two households to meet outside
Welcome to today’s live coverage. We’ll be bringing you updates on the pandemic throughout the day. Here’s a quick look at some of the main headlines to get you started:
- Wales is due to set out plans for a phased end to lockdown later today, starting with a relaxation on outdoor socialising. But the reopening of non-essential retail - expected to be part of the early stages of easing the rules - is now not due until 12 April
- Scotland has relaxed its rules on socialising outdoors , with four adults from two households now able to meet outside in public places and in gardens
- Organisers of a vigil for Sarah Everard, who is believed to have been murdered as she walked home in South London, have launched a legal action to allow the event to go ahead. They are challenging the police interpretation of coronavirus regulations after being told they could face fines of £10,000
- US President Joe Biden has set 4 July as a target date for “independence” from the virus as he announced he would order states to make vaccines available to all adults by 1 May
- Car insurance claims plummeted last year by 19% as people stayed home in the pandemic , figures show. But the average price paid by consumers for insurance has dropped by just 1%, with insurers saying claims are just one of the costs they face in supporting customers
- Increased social isolation during the pandemic has driven 3.2 million households to acquire a pet , the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association said. Young people are the main drivers of the trend, but there are concerns about animal welfare
- Thailand has become the latest country to delay the rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine after reports of blood clots - although the European Medicines Agency says there is no evidence the vaccine is the cause
Latest across Europe
- After Denmark, Norway and Iceland suspended use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, France and Austria have said they will continue to use it. Austria, along with four other countries, stopped using doses from one batch after a woman died, but said there was no reason to suspend the vaccine entirely. The European Union’s EMA medicines regulator says there is no indication it leads to an increased risk of blood clots.
- The pandemic situation is tense and worrying in the greater Paris region of France, says Health Minister Olivier Véran. "Every twelve minutes night and day, a Parisian is admitted to an intensive care bed,” he says.
- As many as 12 regions in Italy could be declared “red zones” today with severe restrictions imposed from Monday. Bars and restaurants in those areas are set to be shut and students will return to online learning.
- Portugal's prime minister, António Costa, has detailed a timetable for a "drip-by-drip" easing of a two-month lockdown on the mainland from Monday. Remote working will remain compulsory but creches, kindergartens and primary schools will reopen, as well as hairdressers, bookshops and car dealers. Next month, smaller shops and museums can reopen and cafes and restaurants can serve outdoors.
- Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria and her husband Prince Daniel have tested positive for Covid but are said to be showing minor symptoms. They have gone into isolation with their two children Princess Estelle and Prince Oscar.
UK economy shrank by 2.9% as third lockdown came into forceNew figures from the Office of National Statistics show the UK economy shrank by 2.9% in January as the third lockdown came into force.
Overall the economy is 9% smaller than it was before the start of the pandemic.
January's fall was smaller than some had expected, but the ONS said it was still a "notable hit".
Retailers, restaurants and services such as hairdressers were all forced to close when the latest lockdown came into effect.
What are the plans for reopening in Wales?Wales is due to announce its detailed plan to ease lockdown at lunchtime today. It’s expected to be a phased relaxation, with the “stay home” advice replaced by “stay local”.
Here’s the expected timetable:
From Saturday 13 March
- "Stay at home" will become "stay local"
- Four people from two different households can meet up outdoors to socialise, including in gardens - children are excluded from the number
- Outdoor sports facilities such for golf, tennis and basketball will be able to reopen
- Designated solo visitors can enter care homes
From Monday 15 March
- All primary school children and those in qualifications years can return to class
- Schools will have flexibility to bring back year 10 and 12 pupils and more students will return to colleges
- Hairdressers and barbers can reopen - for appointments only
From Monday 22 March
- Gradual easing of non-essential shopping and non-essential aisles in supermarkets
- Garden centres to reopen
From Saturday 27 March
- Self-contained accommodation in Wales will be able to reopen provided case rates remain low
From 12 April
- All shops will be able to open - the same date as in England.
Welsh holiday homes to reopen for Easter - but not for the EnglishThe tourism industry in Wales will begin reopening in time for Easter, with First Minister Mark Drakeford saying he hopes people will be able to book “self-contained accommodation” by then.
But Drakeford tells BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that people in England will not be able to go on holiday in Wales at that point.
He says that because Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan for easing lockdown does not permit overnight stays away from home by that stage, it will not be allowed.
“If it won’t be safe to stay overnight in England, then obviously it would not be safe for people to travel into Wales,” he says. The first minister says allowing people from two households to socialise in gardens will be a “big step” for Wales.
“For many families that will allow grandparents to see grandchildren again and it’s a sign that cautiously, carefully and step by step, we’re now on the journey of reopening Welsh society,” he says.